I have a confession to make: Even though I’m a huge proponent of homemade stocks, I’ve never actually made beef stock from scratch.
I don’t really use a lot of beef stock for things so it has never really been worth it.
But a few weeks ago I was in New York and went to some hole-in-the-wall noodle shop in Chinatown and got a big bowl of hand-stretched noodles. The noodles were good, sure, and the beef was okay. But the broth was out of this world.
It dawned on me then that if I ever intended to even half-replicate a good noodle bowl, it must start with homemade beef stock.
Since noodle bowls won the poll last week, I’ll post that part of this experiment tomorrow, but I wanted to spend a post on my first beef stock experience.
The end result was absolutely delicious, but I would’ve liked it to be a few shades darker.
1) Cut onions, carrots, and rutabaga into quarters or sixths and combine in a large roasting pan with beef bones. Drizzle all the veggies and bones with some olive oil.
2) Roast the dish at 425 degrees for at least an hour, but 90 minutes would be okay depending on how dark you want your final stock.
3) Once roasted, add bones and veggies to a stock pot and top with celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, and peppercorns.
4) Add about a cup of water to the hot roasting pan and use the water to scrape up any bits stuck to the pan. Add those to the stock pot.
5) Add about 12 cups of cold water to the stock pot. The water should cover the bones and veggies.
6) Bring stock to a simmer on the stove and then let it simmer over low heat for 4-6 hours. The pot should never boil quickly. Make sure it is just a nice slow simmer.
7) After a few hours, a foam might start forming on the top of the stock. Scrape this off with a large spoon and discard it.
8) Once the stock has simmered as long as you want it to, strain stock through a sieve or cheesecloth. Discard the veggies and bones.
9) Let stock cool to room temperature and then store in the fridge overnight.
10) The next day, skim the fat off the top of the stock.
11) Store the stock in the fridge for 10 days or freeze for longer storage.
Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.
The really nice thing about beef stock is that you can (and should) make it out of bones.
Like, seriously, just bones.
I used the exact same bones for this stock that I feed to my dog!
I used about three pounds and I think I should’ve upped that to about five pounds to help with my color.
As soon as I pulled these out, Porter was hovering.
“What are you doing with my bones, Dad?”
Anyway, just toss the bones in a roasting pan with the onions, carrots, and rutabaga (optional). I just roughly cut all my veggies into quarters or sixths and tossed them together.
Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the whole thing and stick the roasting dish in a 425 degree oven.
The minimum time you should roast this for is an hour, but 75-90 minutes probably wouldn’t hurt.
You should have some serious caramelized pieces on the bones and on the veggies.
Mine were pretty good, but if/when I make this again, I’ll go a shade darker.
The Pan Plan
Eventually you’ll need a large pot, ideally a stock pot, to transfer your bones and veggies into, but when you do that you’ll be left with a really dirty roasting pan.
It’ll have lots of little bits stuck onto it.
Don’t wash the pan whatever you do! Add some water to the pan and use the water to scrape up all those bits. That’s all really intense flavor so make sure to scrape it up and transfer it to your stock pot.
Starting the Stock
Add the bones and veg into a large pot and then top them with your fresh stuff: celery, parsley, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppers.
It will be all of the sudden very colorful.
Cover this mixture with about 12 cups of cold water and then bring it to a slow simmer on the stove top.
This will ultimately simmer for anywhere from 4-8 hours depending on how dark you want your stock. I went for the short end of that spectrum and I wish I would’ve done closer to six hours just to get the flavors a bit deeper.
The key when simmering the stock is to make sure it stays at a very slight simmer. You don’t want it at a rolling boil or it will just rip apart all the veggies and bones and make your final stock really dirty.
If, during simmering, a foam appears on the top of the stock, just skim it off with a spoon and discard it.
This was my finished stock which, admittedly, should’ve simmered for another hour or two in my opinion.
Let the stock cool for a bit and then strain it either through a metal sieve or through some cheesecloth to remove the bones and veggies.
Storing the Stock
While you can use the stock immediately, I don’t recommend it unless you can scoop off a lot of the fat. There will be a pretty good layer of fat on the stock from all of the beef and marrow so it’s best to let the stock chill overnight in the fridge and then you can just skim off the fat layer and discard it.
Whatever you do, don’t put this fat down your sink! It will immediately clog it up and you’ll have a mess on your hands.
Once you have the stock cleaned, you can store it in the fridge for a week or so or freeze it for longer storage.
I like to freeze mine in freezer safe bags, but you can also freeze them in jars or plastic containers. If you do jars, remember to leave about an inch of space at the top of the jar as the stock will expand as it freezes and you don’t want exploding jars in your freezer.
Uses for this stuff is pretty endless. One of Betsy’s favorite meals is egg noodles cooked in beef stock with some black pepper on top.
As I mentioned, I would’ve liked the color to be a bit deeper, but I was pretty happy with it for my first attempt at beef stock. If you make it, don’t be afraid to let it simmer for a long time and go heavy on the bones!
Tomorrow, check back for my first attempt at a noodle bowl which turned out to be pretty easy and very delicious.